S98 Use of Experimental Lightning Detector During Hurricane Harvey

Sunday, 7 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 5 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Samantha Lane, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and T. Logan

Assessment of lightning activity in thunderstorms is imperative to ensuring safety of the public. In order to ensure safety and awareness, lightning detectors can be designed and tested as part of STEM research programs. In this study, lightning data is taken from a lightning detector located at Texas A&M and uses an RLC-radio circuit that is attached to a voltmeter and an Arduino microcontroller. The detector was able to survey both intracloud and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, as well as alert the user if a storm is intensifying or weakening based on the lightning event counts and detector voltage. The detector data is compared with precipitation records and NEXRAD reflectivity data from the events of Hurricane Harvey. The lightning detector has a range of nearly 160 km, and was operational from 25 August to 30 August 2017. Currently, the detector lacks the ability to pinpoint the exact location of a lightning strike, but with further study, the microcontroller can be programmed to tell the user if the lightning is entering or leaving the vicinity. Continued work, research, and improvement of these devices could generate increased interest in lightning science as well as increased public awareness regarding lightning.
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